Analysis

Six Stories That Focus Too Much on Side Characters

The protagonist is a story’s most important character. They have the most interesting problems, and the conflict’s outcome depends on their actions. Whether a story has multiple protagonists or just one, they should receive the lion’s share of screen time and development. At least, that’s … read more »

Five Characters With Strong Arcs

Character arcs come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they fade seamlessly into the plot, but other times the characters go through major changes and become different people by the end. Both types of arc are valid, but it’s the second category we’re looking at … read more »

Six Unsatisfying Character Arcs

Anakin looking out from under his hood with his yellow eyes in Revenge of the Sith.

Character arcs form the backbone of many a story. A successful upward arc fills the audience with fuzzy warmth, while a well-crafted downward arc delivers powerful pathos. But not all arcs are put together well. When a character’s change is rushed or unjustified, it often … read more »

Five Setting Details With Horrifying Implications

Rayla putting her hand out to a baby deer in Dragon Prince.

Worldbuilding is a core aspect of speculative fiction. Not only do fantastic worlds provide critical novelty, but they also allow for fun new plots and powerful messages! But when storytellers aren’t careful, seemingly minor worldbuilding details can have major implications. Sometimes, those implications are really … read more »

Five Stories Sabotaged by Their Tone

Spock stands facing Michael, who is strapped in a chair

Most storytellers know they shouldn’t add slapstick to a tragic death scene or stuff explicit violence in a romantic comedy. That’s why I have only one article with tone guidelines. But recently I’ve noticed a spate of popular stories hindered by a bad tone choices. … read more »

Five More Underpowered Antagonists

A bird of prey exploding, from footage used in both Undiscovered Country and Generations.

Antagonists need to be threatening so they can provide tension. If the story doesn’t have tension, then the conflict isn’t interesting, and the audience will get bored in a hurry. Storytellers have many tools at their disposal to make bad guys more threatening, but there … read more »